Journal Eight: The Transcendental

First, note that the second literature review draft is due Tuesday and we are reading Emily Dickinson for Monday

Two of this week's readings embody the Transcendental ethos. Those would be Whitman's "Song of Myself" and Hawthorne's "Birthmark." The other two embody more of a naturalistic ethos, where we see the grim, inescapable realities of everyday life. Working with the below definitions, discuss the manner in which taking these seemingly competing or contradictory views of the world into account can help us better understand or appreciate the world we inhabit. Why is it better that we hold ourselves to be open to these competing views? If it isn't better, why? In examining this, be sure to illustrate the alignment or disconnect with specific examples from each of the readings.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Naturalism is the application of the principles of scientific determinism to literature. This can be seen in characters who, as animals in nature, respond to environmental forces and internal stresses and drives, none of which they can control or understand. While realism focuses on the commonplace, naturalism focuses on the representative and arranges details to reveal certain patterns of ideas that form the author's view of life. Naturalistic works will often emphasize either a biological or socio-economic determinism, one that is inescapable for those involved.

Transcendentalism is not as much concerned with a metaphysics that transcends daily lives as opposed to being a view of the mind that replaces Locke's "blank slate"(an empiricist, materialistic, and passive model) by emphasizing the role of the mind itself in actively shaping experience. In short, we create our own reality, and that reality may exist only in our mind. We see this as people express a reliance on intuition and conscience; seeing that within nature humans there is something that transcends human experience; that there is an intuitive and personal revelation where every person’s relation to God is established directly by the individual rather than through ritualistic church because people are divine in their own right; where self-trust and self-reliance are to be practiced at all times because to trust the self is to trust a creation of God and his (intentional lower case 'h') voice through that creation; along with a belief in democracy and individualism and the emancipation of women, particularly with regard to suffrage and temperance.

Journal Seven: On the Individual

The readings this week looked at three different notions of the individual: the spiritual/religious in Emerson's "Nature," the political in Thoreau's "On Civil Disobedience," and the what I'll (over)simplify as the social in Douglass' "Narrative," though there is certainly much more to his text than that. Give some thought to how each of these views on the individual have evolved since the time of these writers. Have we embraced the ideas put forth by this week's writers? Merely paid them lip service? For each, take one of their ideas and show how it is or isn't something that is embraced by Americans today. Make it clear why it could be of interest or importance, why it shou8ld or shouldn't be embraced today. Be sure to illustrate your discussion with examples from the readings.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Revision Guidelines and Expectations

  • You may drop by and talk to me about any aspect of your revision you like. In fact, I wish you would because it will result in a better revision and grade, and not just because you kept me from being lonely in my office, but because collaboration is an effective learning strategy.
  • Any literature review that earned less than a C/2.0 MUST be revised. It is optional and encouraged for all others.
  • Revised essay must show revisions in some highlighted form, whether track changes, new font color (nothing to soft and unreadable, such as yellow please), background highlighting, or the like.
  • Submit previously graded and commented upon draft with the revision
  • Be sure you pay most attention to the broader, more global concerns. It's more important to address shortcomings in development and the like than it is to focus on punctuation and grammar concerns, though those have their place.
  • Works Cited pages are always required, even if that's overlooked on an assignment sheet. Just like correct addition is required in calculus, like correct spelling in any class, it is a given.
  • Simply cleaning up grammar and mechanical concerns I noted will not change the grade

Journal Six: Melville and Poe

While Edgar Alan Poe and Herman Melville were writing pretty much at the same time as the Transcendentalists (which we'll be reading in the coming week) they don't fit neatly under within that school of thought. What each of them does is provide something of a glimpse into the human soul or psyche, call it what you will. One source says the two shared a "a darkly metaphysical vision mixed with elements of realism, parody, and burlesque." Based on the definitions of those three terms found below (and feel free to seek out more on each if you desire), and what we read this week, why might this be of interest or importance to a reader of these works today? See what you can come up with in that regard. Be sure to illustrate your discussion with examples from the readings.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Realism: Realism looks at the common actions and minor catastrophes of middle class society. The tone was often expected to be somewhat light, rarely grim or somber. Realists believe that since life lacks symmetry, so too should literature. In this respect, works of realism seek to mimic, to provide a one-to-one relationship between the representation and the subject.

Parody: Something that imitates a more serious rendering of the same focus by making fun of the earlier rendering. Parody keeps the style constant by lowering or debasing (think mocking) the subject.

Burlesque: A form of comedy consisting of ridiculous exaggeration and distortion. There must be a disconnect between subject and style. Burlesque does the opposite of parody, keeping the subject constant while lowering the style.

Journal Five: Towards a New Aesthetic

I mentioned in class the other day that our readings were more taking on a greater aesthetic purpose. If we look at the aesthetic of the Federalist Papers, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano and finally "The Raven" and "The Philosophy of Composition," even though we didn't read them in that order, we can see a distinct evolution. What I'd like this week's journals to address is the way we can see the aesthetic element, which we will consider as the perception of beauty or pleasure, influencing our willingness to both consume (as in read) and consider the ideas put forth. Why might that be a good thing or bad thing? See what you can come up with in that regard.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Journal Four: Great American Minds

First, my apologies for not posting this earlier. Journals are due Monday but the responses will still be due by Midnight Tuesday.

This week's readings have, I hope, provided more of a sense of what was happening in colonial America. The three writers are among the greatest contributors to what is often referred to as American Exceptionalism, America as something of a secular "citty upon a hill." When I use the phrase "American Exceptionalism," it's not in the sense that America can do no wrong, but that America's articulated founding principles, however well or poorly we have lived up to them, matter not just in America but to many around the world. What I'd like this week's journals to address is the way we can see these ideas, as they are expressed in each of the readings, today, in the America we live in. How are the ideas expressed by Franklin, Jefferson and Paine still with us, and why might that be a good thing or bad thing? See what you can come up with in that regard. This is pretty much the same journal as last week, but with new readings.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Monday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Journal Three: Foundational Thinking

This week's readings have, I hope, given you a somewhat different sense of what was happening in early America. What I'd like this week's journals to address is the way we can see the ideas expressed in each of the readings today, in the America we live in. How are the ideas expressed by Rowlandson, Mather and Knight still with us, and why might that be a good thing or bad thing? See what you can come up with in that regard. This is pretty much the same journal as last week, but with new readings.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Journal Two: Puritans Among Us

This week's readings moved us from the colonial explorers to the early Puritan settlers. Though somewhat small in overall numbers at 20,000 immigrants during what is called "The Great Migration" (keeping in mind that roughly 30,000 convicts were also transported to the colonies, though a bit later than this), the Puritan legacy has been lasting. This is for a variety of reasons, a big one being their highly developed literacy and the leaving of a written record. Still, the Puritans have had what might be an outsized influence on American culture. For this week's journal, discuss three instances, one from each of the assigned readings, where the ideas and attitudes of the Puritans are still with us today, for better or worse. Provide a description of the attitude or idea that is with us, illustrate that with an appropriate passage from the reading and explain why you think this is of interest or importance today.

Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday.

Book Club Groups

Hidden Hand Typee Sheppard Lee Bondwoman's Narrative
Lauren
Hannah
Jessika
Zack
Ashley
Kendell
Elisheba
Brandon
Dylan
Jace
Jared
Aalyah
Charles
Sergey
Logan
Vanessa
Chris T
Christopher A
Adam
Elizabeth
McKenna
Casey
Megan
Destiny
Diana
Elyse

Journal One: Colonial Contacts

It's often been said that "history is written by the winners" (with the earliest documentation I could find being a 1944 George Orwell essay of that title). That being the case, the winners over the past week of readings are the Spanish, French and English explorers, colonizers, conquerors, call them what you like. The losers? In the long run, the 300 cultures with over 200 languages generally referred to as "the savages." For this journal, develop a description of these "savages" based on what you find in the assigned readings. In developing this description, be sure it makes some sort of a point or points (what they are is is up to you) that is supported through specific examples from at least three of the assigned readings. Having posted your thoughts, respond to at least two other journals and one response to your journal, for a minimum of three responses. Due date for the journal is midnight Sunday. Responses are due by midnight Tuesday. This will be a regular task of the class that you will want to account for in your schedule.

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